NIGERIA ELECTION: Fears abound poll could fuel economy downslide
from OKORO CHINEDU in Lagos, Nigeria
LAGOS, (CAJ News) – THE Presidential election Nigeria is scheduled to hold on Saturday is likely to exacerbate the West African country’s economic woes, a leading global economic think tank said ahead of the Saturday poll.
Nigeria, the continent’s biggest economy an most populous country, is set to hold one of the most closely-contested elections yet with incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and opposition leader, Muhamadu Buhari, of the People’s Democratic Party and APC respectively, the main contenders.
“The outcome of the vote is a tough call: the fact that the two leading candidates have both been criticised as unfitting contenders for the presidential seat makes the outcome even more contentious,” stated Rand Merchant Bank analysts, Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana and Celeste Fauconnier.
“And in the meantime, the potential of Nigeria sliding into an economic crisis is high, with the market having little faith in either candidate to rectify the imbalances quickly. Although our view that incumbency is key in Africa still holds, it will certainly be challenged this time around.”
While Jonathan’s re-election campaign has been premised on continuity, Buhari’s party is eager for change citing the rampancy of corruption and the government’s questionable approach to the Boko Haram crisis.
“Whether it is Jonathan’s struggle in addressing the socio-economic imbalances, Boko Haram, or the overall economic woes stemming from a lower oil price, change is what the Nigerian people want, and a Buhari win is what they could get,” the RMB analysts said.
The said a Jonathan victory would ensure policy continuity was almost guaranteed but whether these policies are conducive to economic reforms was a different story.
“Known for the slow and indecisive policymaking, it is questionable whether Jonathan and the PDP can fix the problems that have plagued the previous presidential tenure.
“However, it helps that the PDP is known as a pro-business party, and investor uncertainty will subside quicker than with an opposition win.”
Ramkhelawan-Bhana and Fauconnier suspected that the PDP would face post-election violence and deepened distrust over the electoral process if Jonathan was re-elected for a second term.
A Buhari victory, RMB argued, would move the government towards a more socialist, centre-left agenda.
“However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the party would be anti-business, it suggests that business could take a backseat to other party priorities, which will hurt investor sentiment. We can expect significant action against corruption and the Boko Haram insurgency,” analyst said.
Because of this switch in focus, it is important that Buhari has a strong policy team to also concentrate on the task at hand: a battling economy that cannot afford to be ignored, analysts added.
However, RMB warned that the biggest risk tomorrow is whether there will be delays, disruptions, or any type of cancellation of the election.
“The initial postponement from 14 February already caused voter apathy, and anything derailing it could cause bursts of violence.”
– CAJ News
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